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Retirement Pension

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people he estimates will reach retirement age and begin to claim the state retirement pension between 12 September 1999 and 12 January 2000. [102632]

Mr. Rooker: The information is not available in the form requested. Such information as is available is as follows.

It is estimated that around 180,000 people will reach State pension age between the 12 September 1999 and 12 January 2000.

    1. Figures are estimated by the Government Actuary's Department (GAD).

    2. Future numbers of new claimants of State Retirement Pension are not estimated by GAD. The numbers of people reaching State pension age is the closest available approximation.

Cold Weather Payments (Scotland)

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the (a) number of claimants and (b) cost of cold weather payments in the (i) Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber and (ii) Ross, Skye and Inverness, West constituencies in (1) 1997, (2) 1998, (3) 1999 and (4) 2000. [101960]

Angela Eagle: The administration of the Social Fund is a matter for Peter Mathison the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. David Stewart, dated 15 December 1999:

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    The attached tables detail the estimated cost and numbers of potential recipients in each constituency for 97, 98/99.

    I hope this is helpful. Copies of this letter will be placed in the library.

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Number of qualifying recipients by weather station and estimated cost by constituency

1996-97 1997-98 1998-99
TriggersEstimated recipientsTriggersEstimated recipientsTriggersEstimated recipients
Weather station
Loch Glascarnoch51,88031,90421,928
Waterstein Head----0519----
Tulloch Bridge41,9350(9)1,9352(9)1,935
Estimated cost
Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (£)--96,180--24,080--18,544
Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber (£)--84,107------12,217

(9) These figures for Tulloch Bridge are extrapolations from 1996-97, not true estimates.


1. Kinloss and Tulloch Bridge stations serve both constituencies. The other six stations do not serve Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber. Each station also serves areas outside these two constituencies. The total estimated recipients for all the weather stations is therefore substantially higher than the total of estimated recipients in the two constituencies. The calculation of the estimated cost takes this into account.

2. The figures in the table represent an estimate of the actual total cost per constituency. The cost of triggers at Kinloss and Tulloch Bridge has been split equally between the two constituencies.

3. The estimated cost has been calculated by multiplying the number of triggers (A) by the number of estimated recipients served by each station (B) by the cost per CWP (£8.50), then multiplied by the number of total qualifying individuals in each constituency (C) (from the following table) divided by the total estimated recipients served by all relevant stations for each constituency.

4. Waterstein Head station did not exist in 1996-97. Its catchment was drawn from Tiree for 1997-98. It was then replaced by another new station, Lusa, in 1998-99.

5. It is not possible to estimate the cost or number of payments for a future period for the year 2000 as CWPs are dependent on prevailing weather conditions and the caseload at the time.

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Estimated number of qualifying individuals August 1997 to August 1999 by parliamentary constituency area

Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber3,1003,3003,400
Ross, Skye and Inverness, West3,8003,7003,700


1. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample of the Income Support caseload and figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Some income-based Jobseeker's Allowance recipients may qualify, but the numbers are estimated to be negligible so have not been included in the estimates of qualifying individuals.

3. Estimates are based on a sample of cases, and are subject to a degree of sampling error and therefore provide only a guide to the situation.

4. Cases are allocated to each parliamentary constituency by matching the postcode against the 1999 version 1 of the Postcode Directory and as such represent constituency boundaries as at 1 May 1997.

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Winter Fuel Payment

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will issue an instruction to all Benefits Agency staff requiring them to disregard the value of the Winter Fuel Payment when assessing the value of capital in any assessments of entitlement to income-related benefits. [102998]

Angela Eagle: Winter Fuel Payments are made under the Social Fund. Income-related benefits legislation provides for all types of Social Fund payments to be fully disregarded in the assessment of a person's capital. This is reflected in guidance to Benefits Agency staff in both the Decision Makers' Guide (DMG) and the Guidance and Procedures manual (GAP).

If the hon. Member believes that this guidance has not been followed in a particular case, he or the individual concerned should contact the local Benefits Agency office.

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Benefit Disregards

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will review the levels of capital and income disregards for the benefits for which his Department is responsible. [102510]

Mr. Bayley: We continue to keep the levels of capital and income disregards in all income-related benefits under review as part of the welfare reform and modernisation programme that the Department is currently undertaking.

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he (a) has made and (b) intends to carry out of the contribution that a raising of the levels of capital and income disregards for benefits paid out of public funds would make to the Government's policy of reducing poverty. [102512]

Mr. Bayley: We outlined our commitment to looking at ways to better reward savers in the Pensions Green Paper with a view to ensuring that the least well-off pensioners share in the rising national prosperity. We will bring forward our proposals later in this Parliament.

Invalid Carers Allowance

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimates he has made of the earnings of recipients of invalid carers allowance in the last year for which figures are available. [102781]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available.

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